Celebrating the Fourth of July typically means travel plans for Arkansans and others who will be crisscrossing the state on every highway and many local streets. The holiday is also one of the deadliest because of drunk drivers who make the choice to get behind the wheel and drive.
Beginning Friday, June 28, law enforcement officers will devote additional time and resources patrolling to find and arrest drunk drivers. Their special assignments will continue through Sunday, July 7. The added patrol work is one part of a statewide Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over operation designed to spread the lifesaving message that drunk driving is unacceptable, deadly, and illegal behavior.
“There will be zero tolerance for impaired drivers,” said Searcy County Chief Deputy Dewayne Pierce. “We want to be very clear about the consequences of drunk driving; it’s illegal and incredibly deadly and it’s a risk we don’t want anyone to take”.
During the 2017 Fourth of July holiday period, 237 people were killed in crashes involving at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. These deaths accounted for 39 percent of the total motor vehicle traffic crashes that occurred over the holiday period. The deaths also represent a 23 percent increase from 2016, during which time 192 people were killed during the same holiday period.
“The consequences are serious. If we catch you driving under the influence of alcohol, we will arrest you, and you’ll go to jail,” said Pierce.
On average, the cumulative costs of a DUI arrest can range upwards of $10,000 or more. Drunk drivers who are arrested face jail time, vehicle towing and impoundment fees, attorney fees, court costs and fines, and lost wages from employment. A conviction routinely leads to the loss of a driver’s license and higher vehicle insurance costs once driving privileges are restored.
For those individuals who may consider the idea of driving after consuming alcohol beverages, the Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office recommends these options:
It’s never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had one intoxicating beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation to get to your destination safely.
If you’ve been drinking, call a taxi or someone who is sober to get you home.
If you see a drunk driver on the road, call 911.
If you know someone who is about to drive or operate a motorcycle or any other vehicle while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to their destination safely.
Buckle up, always. Your seat belt is your best defense against the drunk driver.
More information about the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign can be obtained at www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov or contact the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136. Information about Arkansas' ongoing "Toward Zero Deaths" campaign to eliminate preventable traffic deaths can be found at www.TZDarkansas.org.